A tongue retaining device is a device that is used to help position the tongue so that it allows someone to sleep better. It is used especially when the person suffers from excessive snoring or a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. In many cases, a tongue retaining device may be advised when the patient has tried established devices such as the continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP) and found that either they are ineffective or very uncomfortable and difficult to get used to.
A tongue retaining device, also known as a tongue stabilizing device positions the tongue forwards inside the mouth while the person is asleep. The device stops the tongue from slipping back and blocking the passage of air down to the lungs. It is the constant temporary blocking of the airways that is thought to be responsible for sleep apnea.
People who are suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) find that they wake up constantly during their sleep with a start as their airways become periodically blocked. The condition is disturbing and can lead to further health problems if left untreated.
Other uses of a tongue retaining device
A tongue retaining device may also be used for someone who has a particularly large or thick tongue, a tongue that is too relaxed while sleeping and people who have particularly large tonsils, a large uvula, or suffer from hypothyroidism.
Once a tongue retaining device has been custom made to fit a person’s mouth the device can be used by that person without having to go back to the dentist regularly. The device is taken out during the day time and put back in during the night.
Are tongue retaining devices effective?
Studies have been done to determine the effectiveness of the device for those who suffered from excessive snoring or obstructive sleep apnea and have shown that in the majority of cases, a tongue retaining device does help. The figures are in the 60 – 80% range, which means that not everyone who has a sleep disorder will find that a tongue retaining device by itself will work. This is an indication that any sort of sleep disorder needs careful assessment and a treatment package rather than one simple technique used. The treatment package may also look at lifestyle issues and suggest changes in lifestyle to help in treatment.